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Healing & Healthy movements: a brief close up of your… fascia!


No matter how or where you start the more you move the better your body will operate.

Saying that moving is healthy and necessary isn’t a surprising news. I read in an article 'We were born to move'. Yet… we live in a time where our very well-organized everyday life encourages us to avoid or limit movement. Driving our cars, being on a bus, working at a desk, holding mobile phones, coming back home to… sit on the sofa for chilling out. Not much time or even motivation is left to move. I’m just saying to move or stretch not necessarily to exercise.

Stretch more often to enhance your overall well-being.

Adding to that, sitting for extended periods, incorrect sleeping positions or even pre-existing physical conditions cause stiffness and pain. That’s why stiff back, slumped shoulders/head and chronic tiredness are the norm for most of us in our modern life.


The aftermath? Our body aches and our mind get tired because accumulated physical tension is draining!


All these poor postures and improper alignment may worsen if left untreated.


Luckily there is a bunch of options for you because chronic pain & mental fatigue don’t have to become your ‘normal’. And if it is your ‘usual’, don’t wait any longer, take a breath (as we do in Yoga) and… Change.


Shift your daily routine gradually and effortlessly. Jay Shetty a British motivational speaker and former Buddhist monk came up with this interesting motto "MEDS". It stands for Meditation Exercise Diet and Sleep. 4 pillars of his daily routine. That could be a good way to start, even if you can’t do them all in one day.

- Meditation is a mind training

- Exercise can be simple movements or a walk (no need to work out intensely)

- Diet because our gut is our second brain

- Sleeping in order to rest and recharge yourself.


Obviously the stretchy, bendy & sweaty physical approach is a good way of hitting back at eight or more hours a day spent hunched over a computer.

Let your body absorb oxygen and sunlight; both are essential for your health and well-being

It is not the only way though! So if you are not the type of exercising perhaps swap the car or bus for a bike or a walk (time to time). It will get you to move and on top of that take some fresh air. This alone will make you feel better and affect your mood. It might even switch your perspective and boost you to tackle a busy day with positivity. Let your body absorb the oxygen and the sunlight (even if UK isn't the best for that :). Both are essential for your health and well-being.


The more you move the more your body will release endorphins too. Magical hormones produced within the brain and nervous system that reduce pain, stress, and lift your spirit! The kind of hormones we all need…


Before thinking about the options to feel any better, let’s start with a basic understanding of our physical body and why we should care about it. Where does stiffness come from and how does it affect our muscles? How can you release these tensions with your yoga practice or other simple movements?


What is fascia and why is it important in your yoga practice?


Let’s take a look at our muscular system.


Fascia means bandage according to its Latin etymology and refers to tissues that lay over our body’s cells to fuse them together.

This complex bunch of fascicles is found in our neurological and muscular systems. Muscles are made of several tissues working together: muscle fibers, nerves, blood vessels and fascia. Fascia is this messy looking web - as shown on the picture – formed of interwoven connective tissues that also surrounds internal organs. It runs through all our body head to toe and even goes into our brain. The larger amount of fascia is found in our abdomen though to hold our organs in place.

In short; it is everywhere.

It is white, elastic, super strong and malleable. This very thin continuous sheet is made up of mostly collagen that covers each cell within our body (37.2 trillion on average in one body depending of the size). It helps to glue that whole cells together.


Nothing in our body is solid just different consistency of liquids that holds true as well for our fascia. Picture a viscous jelly consistency slowly flowing throughout our entire body: muscles cells, ligaments, bones, organs, nerves. Wrapping it up. That is fascia. This incredibly large system holds us, moulds us and makes us what we are. If we can understand it & work with it, we can decrease pain in our bodies.


A happy body is a fluid body.

That’s why your body (& fascia) can easily be worked on with movements such as manual tractions or gentle stretches (that you could get for instance with a physio, any bodywork therapist or basic stretchy movements).


Apparently, our body is designed to be symmetrical even though I haven’t met one yet… By the way, tell me if you do. I would love to see one.


But as a yoga practitioner and working with bodies every single day I’m always trying to move towards symmetry in the body. Creating balance and harmony because a symmetrical body is a happy body.


That’s probably why yoga is such a successful industry (among lots of other reasons I hope) with all the stretches and work on the fascia. Moving, stretching make people feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. Stretching unstick blockages within our fascia and encourage us taking that time to truly feels what feels good.

Balancing your body by stretching may change the game.

I am only scratching the surface of what fascia is and its power but hopefully you get a better view of it. If so take 5 mins at some point in your week to do what feels good.


Fibromyalgia & Myofascial Release (MFR)


Myofascial release are techniques to ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition that affects 1.5-2 million people in UK according to the NHS statistics. It could even be more as it is not yet easily and clearly diagnosed. Mostly people between 30-50 years suffer from it and is more likely in women. Scientists are still unsure of its origins but it’s defined as a long-term condition.


Its most common symptoms:

- Extensive muscular pain

- Fatigue

- Sleep/Memory issues

- Headaches

- Anxiety/Depression


Work your MFR to… relax!

The MFR with sustained manual traction and prolonged gentle stretching allows the fascia to become softer and more elastic. With this kind of therapy fascia produces chemicals that accelerate the healing process in the connective tissues. Studies have shown that gentle stretches activate relaxation response which speeds up tissue healing process and reduces inflammation. Work your MFR to relax!


Although fibromyalgia doesn’t have a cure yet, MFR is an effective treatment to relieve these symptoms. Here are a few tips to release your fascia and accumulated tension.


MFR exercises and Yin yoga.


Heal yourself! Incorporating MFR into your yoga practice and variety in your movements.

All these stretches can be easily done. Pick up one or two you like and repeat them as much as you need. Try to vary the movements to work different areas of your body.

I would recommend to focus on your breathing through each movement. Be mindful as you go through the positions and stop if it doesn’t feel right.

If you’re interested you can also buy a myofascial ball (tennis ball could do but it is harder) or a foam roller to replicate the gentle pressure you could get with a massage and help you reach some places.






The importance of Yin Yoga in opening your fascia


Your fascia requires at least 120 seconds of continued pressure to show change. This is where yin comes in. Yin yoga involves holding poses for an extended period of time which helps lengthen your fascia and improve its overall health. In short holding positions for a long period of time increase the stretch in connective tissues at a deeper level. It makes the stretch more effective. Expect some positions to be a bit juicy though, essentially if you get to the tightest areas of your body. Yin is a healthy and healing practice that creates space physically, mentally and emotionally. You come out of it lighter and relieved.


Here are 4 basic ones that worth a try.


Hold each of them for 3 mins. Make sure you feel it in the targeted area and be careful with the red flags that will be mentioned for each pose. No need to follow a specific alignment just feel it in the targeted area.


Swan

- Do both sides: 3 mins each – 1.30min break in between lying down.

- Targeted area: Glutes, IT band.

- Red flag: the inside of the knee (meniscus), hip joint. If any sharp/deep pain leave the pose. Try another one or relax.

- Benefits: hip opener, can relieve sciatica.



Caterpillar

- Do both sides: 3 mins – 2mins break lying down.

- Targeted area: Spine flexion, Hamstrings.

- Red flag: back of the knee, spine (lower back). If any sharp/deep pain leave the pose. Try another one or relax.

- Benefits: strengthen spine, lengthen ligaments along it, stretch hamstrings, can relieve sciatica and aid with digestion as massaging abdomen.


Open Winged

- Do both sides: 3 mins each – 1.30min break in between lying down.

- Targeted area: pectoral muscles, shoulder, spinal twist.

- Red flag: cervical vertabraes. If any sharp/deep pain leave the pose. Try another one or relax.

- Benefits: chest opener, can relieve neck/shoulder tightness and back pain.


Dragon

- Do both sides: 3 mins each – 1.30min break in between lying down.

- Targeted area: Quads/Hip flexors.

- Red flag: SI joint, knee, neck. If any sharp/deep pain leave the pose. Try another one or relax

- Benefits: hip opener, can relieve back pain as working on the psoas.



MOVE TO FEEL BETTER, LIVE BETTER & BE A HAPPIER YOU.


If we can encourage our bodies to eliminate a little bit of pain or move towards symmetry, I firmly believe that existing aches and pains will start diminishing. As we say you never know until you try.


I hope that helps and we start to work and mould our fascia for being a happier and healthier version of ourselves.

#yoga #fascia #myofascialrealease #wellbeing #movement #stretching #yin #healing #healthy


Take care of yourself and of... your fascia!

See you around.

Amandine

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